OCEAN CITY- The “fastest game on two feet” takes center stage in and around the resort area this weekend when some of the top men’s and women’s lacrosse teams in the country descend on Ocean City for the 21st Annual Ocean City Lacrosse Classic.
The annual tournament got underway yesterday with opening round games in the Masters and Grand Masters divisions at the Northern Worcester Athletic Complex in Berlin. Northside Park in Ocean City continues to be tournament headquarters and most of the action all weekend will take place there, but because of the growth of the tournament in recent years, some early round games will be played at the other venues. For example, most of the early round games in the Women’s Elite Division will take place at the downtown Ocean City fields at 4th Street.
From modest beginnings in 1993, the Ocean City Lacrosse Classic has grown to become one of the sport’s most highly anticipated events. The original tournaments were held on the fields behind the Ocean City Elementary School, but the event is now held at venues all over Berlin and Ocean City with Northside Park serving as tournament headquarters.
This year, over 100 teams are signed up to compete in the tournament in various gender and age brackets. As of mid-week, 40 teams had signed up for the signature men’s elite division, which features some of the top college and professional players in the country. There are 31 women’s elite division teams, also featuring the top female college players, along with 16 Masters division teams, 10 grand masters teams and four in the King Neptune division, which features players over 50.
A new wrinkle added last year is the wheelchair lacrosse division, which will took place at the indoor facility at Northside Park on Wednesday and Thursday in advance of the larger outdoor tournament. In addition, the Masters portion of the tournament has been divided into “A” and “B” divisions with the top performing teams from last year’s tournament in the former and new teams signing up this year in the latter.
Highlighting the event each year is the men’s elite division, which features some of the top collegiate and professional players in the country. Masters and Grand Masters action continues today in Berlin, while the early round action in the Men’s and Women’s Divisions got started this morning. The games will go on night and day throughout the weekend and culminate with title games in each division on Sunday.
While the action on the field is clearly the big draw, the resort area will become the center of the lacrosse universe throughout the weekend with food and drink vendors, lacrosse equipment and clothing vendors and live music, turning the athletic complex into a weekend-long celebration of the sport.